After several years of partnership with the Texas Department of Transportation, Rudy Blanco, President of Pathway Services Inc. and project manager for the first year of the TxDOT project, now reflects on the growth the company has experienced as a result. “It was difficult to predict exactly the impact this project would have on our team and existing clients---and although we were stretched, it was a test of our desire to provide the best data and customer service to all our clients that provided us with the motivation we needed to succeed,” said Mr. Blanco. “It really is a testament to the quality of office staff and drive teams at Pathway that we were able to complete such a huge project in such a short, record time in 2018 and 2019--and to be able to maintain the quality requirements the state set for us within the completion window.”
Historically and up until 2015, the Texas Department of Transportation rated their 96,000 lane miles of national and state highways manually. Already the largest collection project in the world, as the project continued to expand TxDOT began a search for a pavement management partner that 1) could provide an automated/semi-automated data collection solution, 2) would maintain their stringent data collection requirements, and 3) could collect all necessary data in a 5 month window. Not only was TxDOT offering a road condition survey contract to an external vendor for the first time, but the department wanted to push the technological capabilities of pavement data collection using the largest distress analysis contract offered in the world. It was undetermined whether a single vendor could facilitate the high-speed survey of the road system with the degree of accuracy and within the timeline that TxDOT required.
Fast forward to 2017 when Pathway was invited to participate in the TxDOT project. After a data sample review the preceding year, TxDOT unexpectedly selected 2 vendors and split the contract’s total mileage between them. Pathway Services sent 5 of their fleet of PathRunners down to Texas and once certified, the PathRunners would immediately begin to collect half of the state-maintained roads. At the conclusion of 2017’s split-contract it was said, “Comparing the two different vendors used in Fiscal Year 2017, the one vendor [Pathway Services Inc.] provided better consistency in the data.” - Texas Department of Transportation’s Condition of Texas Pavements – Executive Summary • PMIS Annual Report FY 2015-2018. That endorsement led to Pathway being awarded the entire contract in 2018.
The 2018 contract year presented a growing set of challenges for Pathway Services, but they were taken on with a tremendous amount of excitement. The company was being entrusted with the future of Texas’ roads in an unprecedented way, and each person on the Pathway team would play a significant role. With the entire 2018 contract needing to be complete in just 5 months, Pathway sent 10 PathRunner teams, the largest fleet of PathRunners ever dedicated to a single state, down to Texas. Comments regarding 2018 from the Annual Report stated, “Fiscal Year 2018 was the first year that TxDOT used one vendor to collect pavement condition data statewide using automated/semi-automated data collection methods utilizing 3D laser technology and high-resolution cameras.” And as the sole partner with TxDOT, Pathway worked together with the state and their district managers to ensure the new processes provided the consistency and accuracy necessary for strategic planning and budgeting.
In a quote from the 2018 Annual Report expressing the cooperation between TxDOT and Pathway, it is stated, “The vendor [Pathway Services] made improvements to algorithms used to process automated distress measurements in Fiscal Year 2018. These adjustments addressed the false positives of alligator cracking producing increased Distress Score and Condition Score in FY 2018.” - Texas Department of Transportation’s Condition of Texas Pavements – Executive Summary • PMIS Annual Report FY 2015-2018.
Today with the 2019 cycle complete and 2020 beginning, Pathway Services continues to take the knowledge and experience gained from each year of service to improve the process and create best practices which are then enjoyed by all Pathway clients. Moving forward, Pathway Services Inc. has a stated goal for the years ahead to maintain its longstanding reputation as the industry leader in quality data and customer service. In addition to the TxDOT contract, Pathway Services also has long-enjoyed 3 other statewide collection service contracts that exceed 50,000 lane miles in a single calendar year---and more than 10 other state DOT contracts that include annual mileage anywhere from 1,500 to 25,000 miles. According to Mr. Blanco, the biggest lesson he’s learned in more than 2 decades of working on state DOT contracts of all sizes is to treat every mile of data as equally important.
That learned lesson has translated into a core value at Pathway. Magdy Y. Mikhail, P.E., Section Director, Pavement Asset Management – Maintenance Division, TxDOT simply stated, “Pathway Services does an excellent job to meet all the needs of TxDOT for network level pavement data collection. In addition, the Pathway Services team consistently provides excellent customer service.” There is no better expression of a job well done in this field than providing quality data to a satisfied client.
“We want every one of our clients to feel like family and feel properly attended,” said Blanco. “I would hope that no matter the contract size, each and every one of our clients knows how important the quality of their data is to us, and how fortunate we feel to be a part of their team. Proper road management is important. It doesn’t only save money, it saves lives.”